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EndSARS: Lagos Budgets N61 Million for Mass Burial of Unclaimed Bodies Sparking Controversy

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LAGOS, Nigeria — The Lagos State Government’s decision to budget N61 million for the mass burial of 103 unclaimed bodies has elicited strong reactions, particularly from the lawyer representing some of the #EndSARS protesters, Adesina Ogunlana.

On Sunday, July 23, 2023, the Lagos State Government confirmed the authenticity of a leaked letter detailing plans for the mass burial.

The letter, dated July 19, 2023, was sent from the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency to the Lagos State Ministry of Health and signed by Director-General Onafowote Idowu.

It revealed the approval of the N61,285,000 budget for the mass burial.

The bodies in question were recovered following the #EndSARS protest in October 2020.

Ogunlana, who has represented some protesters alleging either being shot or witnessing the shooting at the Lekki tollgate during the protest, voiced his concern over the budgeted amount.

“My concern is not about the people that died but the fact that somebody is saying he wants to carry out a mass burial with N61 million – the mass burial of unidentified bodies, of degraded bodies that died about two years ago,” Ogunlana said. “It should not even be up to N1m. Is it not just digging a big grave and putting the bodies there?”

The attorney’s comments illustrate a growing dissatisfaction among certain public factions about how the government is managing the aftermath of the protests.

Meanwhile, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Gboyega Akosile, defended the budget decision, insisting that Lagos State has an efficient and effective financial structure.

“Lagos State is a very responsible government. We run a very efficient and effective financial structure. Everything passes through the procurement process. Things are based on market value,” Akosile said.

He questioned whether critics understood the specifics of the contract and called on them to focus on areas within their expertise.

As the debate continues, the budget’s impact on public perception and Lagos State Government’s handling of the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests remains to be seen.

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